"Legislature, How Constituted. The
supreme legislative power within this state shall be vested in the senate
and house of representatives, each of which shall have a negative on the
This column will delve into the process established in Legislative Rules to conform to the Form of Government established above in our constitution. If legislative process makes your eyes glaze over, I apologize. But I have been asked by constituents what the Committees of Conference do and why. I will endeavor to simplify it for everyone.
All bills originating in the House of Representatives are called House Bills. Senate Bills originate in the Senate. This year, each body had to complete introductions, testimony hearings, work sessions, executive sessions (where the committees vote how to recommend bills to the floor), and then conduct votes by the full chambers. This entire process, starting the first week in January, had to be completed by March 29, which is "cross-over" day when all bills must be sent to the second body.
Letís take an example of a House Bill. (The same process takes place with Senate Bills.) The house sends its completed bills to the Senate which had until May 17, a little over half of the time allotted to the House, to complete all bills sent over by the House. During the Senateís time with the House Bill, the Senate also may amend the bill, overriding the will of the House.
If that happens, the bill must return to the House which, according to our constitution, has the ability to negate the action of the Senate. The House has three choices when the bill returns from the Senate with a Senate amendment: (1) The House can accept the amendment. This sends the bill on for the Governorís signature. (2) The House can reject the amendment. This will kill the bill. (3) The House can request a Committee of Conference to negotiate between the different versions of the bill.
A variety of steps then intervene and either body can kill the bill during this process. The process is complicated, so when I was the Clerk of the Senate in 2003, I created a C-of-C flow chart to simplify the process. The actual rules refer to "originating body" and "other body", making for very difficult understanding. So I created two flow charts, one for House Bills and the other for Senate bills. These charts are now in use by many Representatives and Senators to follow the process. If you would like to have a copy of the charts, just send me a request and I will send them to you. Send your request to the e-address below.
A C-of-C has members from both parties and both bodies. All must agree on the final recommendation or the bill fails. I have been assigned to three C-of-Cs. Our deadline for signing C-of-C Reports is this Thursday and all C-of-C Reports must be voted on by the full body by Thursday, June 7.
Top of this page
Rep. Winters' Archives
Contact: ken.s+sunacom.com (replace "+" with "@")